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Thoughts on “Being Brave”

By: Cara Barth

“Cowards die many times before their actual deaths.”
Julius Caesar
“The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare

The month of September always makes me reminisce about my school days. I was one of those strange children that loved school, especially English and literature. When in school, I was tasked with reading “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar,” which was written by William Shakespeare around 1599. This is one of several plays written by Shakespeare based on true events from Roman history.

Even though a child, I enjoyed this reading very much and had some revelations that continue to inspire me even to this day. I was struck by the idea that the play was titled for a figure that was not the most visible character; Julius Caesar appeared alive in only three scenes, whereas a “minor” character, Marcus Brutusspeaks more than four times as many lines throughout this drama. The central psychological battle of the play focuses on Brutus’ pull between the conflicting demands of honor, patriotism and friendship. This painful dialogue is what intrigued me.

The idea crossed my mind that a “hero” is not always in the forefront of a situation. The “main character” can also be in the background as a supporting figure, and his/her actions can influence the outcomes significantly!  Even as a child and now as an adult, it was/is comforting to know that heroes and the brave among us may have inner, conflicting dialogues that push them forward. They have to decipher and discern around whatever life event unfolds in front of them and make the decision that is best for all involved, not just their self.

“If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say,
‘That Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his’.
If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my
answer: ‘Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

Marcus Brutus “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare (3.2.19-24)

As I matured, thoughts around the concept of heroes expanded into the idea that conflicted and persecuted individuals are able to dig deep and persevere. From Greek and Roman mythology, to our modern day figures, “Heroes”, are often presented as someone of great strength and skill. Heroes face increasingly difficult challenges and always manage to summon the courage and fortitude to vanquish their enemies and please the gods, using the term loosely.

I have also come to realize over time, heroes rarely stand alone, usually they are the ones that can “rally the troops” and create a belief that the battle being faced, may have already been won.

“Whatever comes out of these gates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive!” Maximus, The Gladiator

Applying the Hero concept to our own life could be something to consider. In present day, there are no surrogate heroes that can be tapped on the shoulder to live our lives, even if we believe they could do it better. In today’s armchair society, we have a tendency to look up to our heroes when what we really need to do is look within. It’s not something we’re accustomed to doing; looking within.

We live in a culture where our outer needs are provided for. Things just show up for us when we need them. We need water; we turn on a faucet and there it is. We need light; just flip a switch. We feel a twinge of pain or discomfort; pop a pill, problem solved. Most of our needs are met before we can even register a desire. Think about it. It almost seems appropriate, given our on-demand environment, that we look to the television, radio, and world wide web to deliver the “Hero of the Day.” It certainly doesn’t need to be us, since we’ve outsourced just about everything else in our lives.

With what I learned as a child from reading the “classics,” and watching my world unfold around me for the past 50+ yrs., I have decided to become my own hero. I want to be the one who writes my future story with passion and certainty, no matter what my past has told me. I will face the struggles of the future, not fear the outcome and not look to others to be my “vicarious hero.” Outsourcing is no longer an option.

“Courage is contagious”

“When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

Billy Graham

Through this process, I hope to develop and refine some of the “Brave Ones” characteristics, which might include:

  • Courage
  • Passion
  • Integrity
  • Honesty; and
  • Confidence

Also, in taking the challenge of being vulnerable and brave in my efforts, I will bring strength to others to do the same. When it comes to being the best, God created person we can be, maybe it’s time to step up; to be our own Hero and to do it in a meaningful way. We need to stop making excuses and waiting for the proverbial “Knight in Shining Armor” to save the day.  We each have a date with destiny that cannot be denied or delayed!

The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

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